The Formula 1 title battle turnaround in the German Grand Prix could make Lewis Hamilton “unbeatable” just as last year’s Singapore events did, reckons 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.
Last weekend’s race looked set to substantially bolster Sebastian Vettel’s world championship advantage, as he led from pole while Hamilton had to battle through from 14th on the grid, but it ended with Hamilton leading the standings by 17 points having taken a shock win after Vettel crashed out in the late rain.
Villeneuve compared that swing to Singapore last September, when Hamilton won on a weekend where Mercedes had been struggling and Vettel was wiped out in a first-lap crash involving his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
That left Hamilton with a 28-point lead, and by the end of the following month he had sealed the 2017 title with two races to spare.
“The effect could be similar to Singapore last year,” Villeneuve told Autosport.
“Lewis completely down, depressed, [thinks] everybody hates him and so on. That was his attitude, even before the race. His comments were completely down.
“And he’s given this, 25 points. This is what happened in Singapore, if I remember well.
“And from Singapore he was unbeatable. He had this mindset for three or four races that no one could beat him.
“Maybe that’s what we will get now. It was costly [for Vettel]. And it may push Lewis into a very positive state of mind.”
Though Villeneuve admitted that Vettel’s Hockenheim crash was “unnecessary because he had the lead and the lead was on his team-mate”, he said the error was completely understandable in the tricky conditions.
“It’s a very easy mistake to make – you just never know how much water there is,” he said.
“You are the leader. When you are P2 or P3, you see the leader, you see the other guys. Kimi had slowed down.
“It’s easy from the outside to say, ‘what a stupid mistake’. [But] it’s so easy to make in those kinds of conditions.”
Villeneuve also dismissed any complaints about Mercedes asking Valtteri Bottas not to attack Hamilton for the lead in the race’s closing stages.
“Why should be people be upset?” he said. “The teams are trying to win the championship. They do whatever it takes.
“You are obliged to have the two cars with exactly the same sponsors. If you were allowed to have the two cars completely different, then you could not impose team orders. It’s that simple.
“But there is no way you can ban them when the stakes are so high.”